New Treatment for Kidney Cancer Proves Successful

New Kidney Cancer Drug

Research into designing a drug that targets kidney cancer cells has been carried out at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and  results so far have been very promising, whereby the new drug kills kidney cancer cells.

What Causes Cancer?

Cancer occurs as a result of changes to the structure or activity of key genes that control how cells operate, divide and die. Because of  these changes cells begin to multiply rapidly in an uncontrolled manner, forming a cancerous tumour.

New Kidney Cancer Treatment

It has been found that in most kidney cancers, the von Hippel landau (VHL) gene has been turned off, and as a result kidney tumours seem to develop.

At the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Associate Professor Michael Hay has found a group of small molecules that can kill kidney cancer cells.

The Professor’s team started by testing a large number of molecules, in a process known as a high-throughput screen.  The molecule that worked best was then selected, and investigated further. They found two ways to make these molecules cause cancer cells to die, first by enabling them to ‘eat’ themselves and second by stopping them from getting enough ‘food’ to survive.  The molecules literally caused the kidney cancer cells to commit suicide.

However, exactly how the two processes work to kill cancer cells is not clear. Nonetheless, Associate Professor Hay continues to use state of the art computer programs to create inhanced chemicals with improved shapes that “slot” into the targets more efficiently. With this revolutionary technique potential new drugs can be assessed far more quickly than if they were hand made in a lab.

The chemicals that have the best fit will be made and tested to assess their capability to kill kidney cancer cells. As part of his remit he will also try to ascertain the actual targets in cells which these potential anti-cancer drugs act on.

The team at Auckland University continue to work on the molecules and hope to design improved versions of them with the intent to target processes unique to cancer cells that will fight cancer with very little side effects.


Association for International Cancer Research (AICR). Designing Drugs for Kidney Cancer. Professor Michael Hay.  2011.


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